Books I Love! The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan is Women’s Fiction on the Road

It took me all summer and then some to get into this book but am I glad I did! I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Georgina Sutton, and it completely captivated me on so many levels. It’s great women’s fiction, an enlightening “coming of age” novel for a woman in mid-life and her octogenarian mother, and a woman in transition, with many truths laid bare. Even the teenage daughters grow a bit. A wonderful read!

About the Book

Get swept into a summer of sunshine, soul-searching and shameless matchmaking with this delightfully big-hearted road trip adventure!

Kathleen is eighty years old. After she has a run-in with an intruder, her daughter wants her to move in to a residential home. But she’s not having any of it. What she craves—what she needs—is adventure.

Liza is drowning under the daily stress of family life. The last thing she needs is her mother jetting off on a wild holiday, making Liza long for a solo summer of her own.

Martha is having a quarter-life crisis. Unemployed, unloved and uninspired, she just can’t get her life together. But she knows something has to change.

When Martha sees Kathleen’s advertisement for a driver and companion to share an epic road trip across America, she decides this job might be the answer to her prayers. She’s not the world’s best driver, but anything has to be better than living with her parents. And traveling with a stranger? No problem. Anyway, how much trouble can one eighty-year-old woman be?

As these women embark on the journey of a lifetime, they all discover it’s never too late to start over.

My Take

From the moment they take off you know the cross-country adventure of Kathleen and Martha will be transformative and fun. Each has something to prove, both have something to come to terms with: For Kathleen, it’s old heartbreak and abandoned relationships, for Martha it’s poor choices and a divorce. Liza, too, has to come to grips with her marriage (is it failing?) and finding herself after devoting years to raising her spoiled, unappreciative twin daughters.

As a lover of anything British I checked out this audiobook and found myself on an American journey across Old Route 66, a road much traveled for those seeking answers, change, growth, opportunity and adventure. Our unlikely duo find all. Back in England, Liza takes her own adventure full of temptations and a rebirth of her previous self, whom, she finds, she’s been missing for quite a long time.

The narration is superb, the clipped British tones of Georgina Sutton carrying the story well.

Recommended for lovers of strong women’s fiction, heroines of an unexpected age, romance on the road, and renewal stories.

About the Author

Sarah Morgan is a USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of romance and women’s fiction. She has sold over 21 million copies of her books and her trademark humour and warmth have gained her fans across the globe.

Sarah lives near London, England and when she isn’t writing or reading, she likes to spend time outdoors hiking or riding her mountain bike. 

Join Sarah’s mailing list at http://www.sarahmorgan.com for all book news. For more insight into her writing life follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook/AuthorSarahMorgan and on Instagram at @sarahmorganwrites Contact Sarah at sarah@sarahmorgan.com

New Release Spotlight! Christmas in Tinsel Tree Village: A Holiday Novella by Viola Shipman

Here it is, not even Halloween, and I’m spotlighting Christmas stories. Why? you might ask. The answer: I’m a sucker for a good Christmas story and load up my Kindle with new releases as soon as they come out so I have plenty to read through the holidays. These days, authors are releasing their books earlier and earlier, trying to get some footing in an overcrowded market, so it’s a good time for readers to stack their holiday TBR list with some of the best new books out there. For the next few weeks I’ll be spotlighting Christmas reads. I’m sure you’ll find a few to put you in the spirit. This week I’m starting with the latest from Viola Shipman, an author I discovered and fell in love with this summer. Here’s Christmas in Tinsel Tree Village.

Book Description

Neve Ford, once the queen of Christmas, no longer loves the holidays. While she once reveled in the magic of the first snow of the season and her collection of heirloom decorations, they now serve as reminders of the husband she lost too soon. With so many painful memories haunting her small Michigan hometown, Neve moved away and never looked back.

Now working in Chicago, and a social media star thanks to her spectacular Christmas windows, Neve’s sole focus is creating crowd-drawing displays—and ignoring the pleading letters her grandmother continues to send from home. But then her job unexpectedly takes her back to Michigan to curate displays for a Christmas festival. An expert at avoiding her past, Neve plans to slip in and get gone…until word of her return leaks out. The walls Neve built around her heart may be strong, but with some unexpected help from the community, Neve will learn that she can’t outrun family bonds—or the promise of hope that only Christmas can give.

About the Author

Viola Shipman is the pen name of Wade Rouse, a popular award-winning memoirist and internationally bestselling author of 12 books translated into 20 languages and selected as Today show Must-Reads, Indie Next Picks and Michigan Notable Book. Rouse chose his grandma’s name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose heirlooms inspire his fiction. He lives in Michigan and California, and hosts Wine & Words with Wade, A Literary Happy Hour, every Thursday.

Connect with Viola Shipman

Viola Shipman Website

Wade Rouse Website

New Release Spotlight! Emily’s House By Amy Belding Brown

I can’t wait to read this one! I just discovered this author and her backlist looks terrific. Lots to mine here. Looks like biographical historical fiction and women’s fiction.

About the Book

When Maggie accepts a temporary position at the illustrious Dickinson family home in Amherst, it’s only to save money for her upcoming trip West to join her brothers in California. Maggie never imagines she will form a life-altering friendship with the eccentric, brilliant Miss Emily or that she’ll stay at the Homestead for the next thirty years.

In this richly drawn novel, Amy Belding Brown explores what it is to be an outsider looking in, and she sheds light on one of Dickinson’s closest confidantes—perhaps the person who knew the mysterious poet best—whose quiet act changed history and continues to influence literature to this very day.

She was Emily Dickinson’s maid, her confidante, her betrayer… and the savior of her legacy. 

An evocative new novel about Emily Dickinson’s longtime maid, Irish immigrant Margaret Maher, whose bond with the poet ensured Dickinson’s work would live on, from the USA Today bestselling author of Flight of the Sparrow, Amy Belding Brown.

Massachusetts, 1869. Margaret Maher has never been one to settle down. At twenty-seven, she’s never met a man who has tempted her enough to relinquish her independence to a matrimonial fate, and she hasn’t stayed in one place for long since her family fled the potato famine a decade ago. 

About the Author

Amy Belding Brown grew up in Vermont and graduated from Bates College in Maine. She received her MFA in Writing degree from Vermont College in 2002 and is the author of the historical novels FLIGHT OF THE SPARROW and MR. EMERSON’S WIFE as well as two light romances. For many years she taught writing at universities and colleges in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She currently lives and writes in Vermont, where she enjoys nature photography in her spare time.

New Release Spotlight! Jennifer Weiner’s That Summer Was Not the Beach Read I Expected

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Summer comes another timely and deliciously twisty novel of intrigue, secrets, and the transformative power of female friendship.

Daisy Shoemaker can’t sleep. With a thriving cooking business, full schedule of volunteer work, and a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she should be content. But her teenage daughter can be a handful, her husband can be distant, her work can feel trivial, and she has lots of acquaintances, but no real friends. Still, Daisy knows she’s got it good. So why is she up all night?

While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, she’s also receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, whose email address is just one punctuation mark away from her own. While Daisy’s driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings. While Daisy’s making dinner, Diana’s making plans to reorganize corporations. Diana’s glamorous, sophisticated, single-lady life is miles away from Daisy’s simpler existence. When an apology leads to an invitation, the two women meet and become friends. But, as they get closer, we learn that their connection was not completely accidental. Who IS this other woman, and what does she want with Daisy?

From the manicured Main Line of Philadelphia to the wild landscape of the Outer Cape, written with Jennifer Weiner’s signature wit and sharp observations, That Summer is a story about surviving our pasts, confronting our futures, and the sustaining bonds of friendship.

My Take

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. My expectations were high when I picked it up. There’s a lot of hype surrounding this title and I like this author and enjoyed other books she’s written.

Maybe it’s me but I found myself confused about who was who and how the characters lives intertwined. I’ve been reading a lot lately – sometimes two or three books at the same time – which could have caused my confusion, or maybe it was the similarities in the characters names – Diana and Diana aka Daisy – that mixed me up. It also could have used a tighter editing as there were many grammatical errors, adding to my confusion. I almost brought the book back to the library unfinished. I also found the Diana character a bit unbelievable, taking on the persona of a sophisticated, sought after business consultant after living on the beach in Truro for years, hiding from the world and happy to do so. The other Diana – Daisy – was a lot more likeable and I found myself rooting for her.

The men were despicable characters, a bit cliche as privileged white men preying on young girls they considered beneath them (literally and figuratively.)

I can see where this book can be triggering for rape survivors and should have come with a warning. Definitely not a beach read.

Not what I expected, but I finished it.

Hopefully Weiner’s next book will be better.

About the Author

Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of sixteen books, including Good in Bed, The Littlest Bigfoot, and her memoir Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at JenniferWeiner.com

New Release Spotlight! Wisteria Island by Rachel Hanna, Southern Fiction with Island Charm

Misfit old people? Sounds like my kind of book!

Description

She’s running from the most embarrassing moment of her life when she finds herself smack dab in the middle of an island full of misfit old people.

Danielle Wright has had an illustrious career as a nurse, but when the unthinkable happens, she has nowhere to run to get out of the gaze of prying eyes and judgmental people. When she takes a job as the nurse for Wisteria Island, she has no clue what she’s agreeing to.

The brainchild of a wealthy entrepreneur, Wisteria Island is home to a cast of quirky, and often difficult, characters. When Danielle finds out why the previous eight nurses have all quit within days, she has to decide whether to stick it out or go back to a life she no longer recognizes.

Wisteria Island is a standalone novel by USA Today bestselling author, Rachel Hanna. If you love southern women’s fiction and lots of laughs, you’ll enjoy this one!

About the Author

Rachel Hanna is a USA Today Bestselling Author and lifelong resident of north Georgia. She writes women’s fiction, clean contemporary small town romance and stories about Southerners. Her quirky characters and emotional storylines are a favorite of readers.

She’s been married for over 22 years and has three kids, all of whom are technically adults but still need money sometimes. 🙂 In addition, she has two rescue doggies and one very snotty outdoor cat who truly believes he owns the place.

If you want to be transported to the South and you like phrases like “fixin’ to” and “bless her heart”- plus the additional talk of peach cobbler and grits – you’ll fall in love with these stories!

Connect with Rachel Hanna

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Books I Love! Kristen Harmel’s The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a Richly Researched, Inspiring Novel

Book Description

The New York Times bestselling author of the “heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism” (People) The Book of Lost Names returns with an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis—until a secret from her past threatens everything.

After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest—and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.

Inspired by incredible true stories of survival against staggering odds, and suffused with the journey-from-the-wilderness elements that made Where the Crawdads Sing a worldwide phenomenon, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel from the #1 internationally bestselling author whose writing has been hailed as “sweeping and magnificent” (Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author), “immersive and evocative” (Publishers Weekly), and “gripping” (Tampa Bay Times).

My Take

What a remarkable read! I was swept away from the start, into the heart of the forest, richly written with vivid details, and into the heart of Yona, our brave but innocent heroine. This is a World War II novel unlike any I’ve read, and was woven with the results of the author’s deep research, which only made the book more gripping.

Yona is kidnapped by a mysterious gypsy-like woman at age two and spends the next 20 years with her captor living deep in the forest, avoiding humanity, hunting and gathering their food, and venturing into nearby villages in the dark of night to take what they need. However, Yona’s captor, Jerusza, is a brilliant and worldly woman who teaches her everything she knows about the forest, the world, and survival. Far from the safety of their forest, war is raging across Europe and the Holocaust is in full throttle.

When Jerusza dies, Yona is left alone, but soon encounters a band of Jewish refugees, innocents in the wilderness, whom she realizes need her help, which she is driven to provide regardless of the danger to herself. With them she discovers, love, betrayal, and loss.

This is my first novel from this author; I will be reading more.

Highly recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction with strong heroines, suspense, lush landscapes, and an inspiring ending.

About the Author

Kristin Harmel is the New York Times bestselling, USA Today bestselling, and #1 international bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names, The Winemaker’s Wife, The Room on Rue Amelie, and a dozen other novels that have been translated into 28 languages and sold all over the world.

A former reporter for PEOPLE magazine, Kristin has been writing professionally since the age of 16, when she began her career as a sportswriter, covering Major League Baseball and NHL hockey for a local magazine in Tampa Bay, Florida in the late 1990s. After stints covering health and lifestyle for American Baby, Men’s Health, and Woman’s Day, she became a reporter for PEOPLE magazine while still in college and spent more than a decade working for the publication, covering everything from the Super Bowl to high-profile murders to celebrity interviews. Her favorite stories at PEOPLE, however, were the “Heroes Among Us” features–tales of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

In addition to a long magazine writing career (which also included articles published in Travel + Leisure, Glamour, Ladies’ Home Journal, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and more), Kristin was also a frequent contributor to the national television morning show The Daily Buzz and has appeared on Good Morning America and numerous local television morning shows.

Kristin was born just outside Boston, Massachusetts and spent her childhood there, as well as in Columbus, Ohio, and St. Petersburg, Florida. After graduating with a degree in journalism (with a minor in Spanish) from the University of Florida, she spent time living in Paris and Los Angeles and now lives in Orlando, with her husband and young son. She is the co-founder and co-host of the popular web series and podcast FRIENDS & FICTION.

Connect with Kristin Harmel

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New Release Spotlight! Mary Kay Andrews The Newcomer is Filled with Southern Charm

An engaging read with likable characters and a charming setting.

Description

The New York Times bestselling author and Queen of the Beach Reads delivers her next page-turner for the summer.

Letty Carnahan is in trouble. She’s on the run from New York City; she has her four-year-old niece, Maya in tow, and her sister was found dead in the entry hall of her glamorous townhome. Letty believes she knows who did it: her sister’s awful, money-grubbing ex-husband, Eli Wingfield.

Letty can’t forget her sister Tara’s insistence: “if anything bad ever happens to me–It’s Eli. Promise me you’ll take Maya and run. Promise me.”

But run where? The only clue Tara has left behind is a faded magazine story about a sleepy mom-and-pop motel on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Certain that the police and Tara’s ex are hot on her trail, Letty leaves her own life behind without a backwards glance, knowing she will somehow get justice for Tara, and sets out for her destination–The Murmuring Surf.

The Surf, as regulars call it, is the winter home of a close-knit but quarrelsome group of retirees and snowbirds who regard this newcomer and her adorable niece with suspicion and more than a little curiosity. There’s a No Vacancy sign swinging from the neon motel marquee, but the motel’s longtime owner Ava DeCurtis takes Letty in, offers her a room and eventually a job, much to the disapproval of Ava’s cynical son Joe, a local police detective whose every instinct tells him that Letty is a dangerous fugitive, possibly even a kidnapper and murderer.

As Letty tries to settle into her new life and help heal Maya’s trauma, she’s preoccupied as her late sister’s troubled past and connection to the motel are revealed, all while trying to deal with the attractive detective’s unwelcome advances. Is Joe a would-be suitor? Or a cop determined to betray her confidence and put her behind bars?

Start reading now!

About the Author

Photo by Bill Miles, marykayandrews.com

MARY KAY ANDREWS is the New York Times bestselling author of 27 novels (including Hello, Summer; Sunset Beach; The High Tide Club; The Weekenders; Beach Town; Save the Date; Christmas Bliss; Ladies’ Night; Spring Fever; and Summer Rental, all from St. Martin’s Press, as well as Savannah Breeze; Blue Christmas; Hissy Fit; Little Bitty Lies; and Savannah Blues, all Harper Collins), and one cookbook, The Beach House Cookbook.

A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, she earned a B.A. in journalism from The University of Georgia (go Dawgs!). After a 14-year career working as a reporter at newspapers including The Savannah Morning News, The Marietta Journal, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she spent the final ten years of her career, she left journalism in 1991 to write fiction.

Her first novel, Every Crooked Nanny, was published in 1992 by HarperCollins. She went on to write ten critically acclaimed mysteries, including the Callahan Garrity mystery series, under her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck. In 2002, she assumed the pen name Mary Kay Andrews with the publication of Savannah Blues. In 2006, Hissy Fit became her first New York Times bestseller, followed by twelve more New York Times, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestsellers. To date, her novels have been published in German, Italian, Polish, Slovenian, Hungarian, Dutch, Czech and Japanese.

She and her family divide their time between Atlanta and Tybee Island, GA, where they cook up new recipes in two restored beach homes, The Breeze Inn and Ebbtide—both named after fictional places in Mary Kay’s novels, and both available to rent through Tybee Vacation Rentals. In between cooking, spoiling her grandkids, and plotting her next novel, Mary Kay is an intrepid treasure hunter whose favorite pastime is junking and fixing up old houses.

Connect with Mary Kay Andrews

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New Release Spotlight! What A Dog Knows, Susan Wilson’s Latest in Her Charming Dog Series

I’ve read the others in this series (One Good Dog, The Dog Who Saved Me, The Dog Who Danced, A Man of His Own) and several of her not dog-oriented novels and found them all to be endearing reads, and I am not a dog person (cats only, please). Wilson is a talented author who writes emotionally moving stories with satisfying endings.

Description

From New York Times bestselling author Susan Wilson comes What a Dog Knows, another heartwarming novel about humans and the dogs that change our lives.

Ruby Heartwood has always lived a life on the move. As a traveling psychic, she makes her living working at carnivals and festivals and circuses around New England. It’s a life Ruby has made peace with—settling in one place has never been for her. She needs no one, and no one needs her.

Until one night, when she is camped by the side of the road in her trusty Volkswagon “Westie” van, a fierce thunder and lightning storm erupts. In the middle of the downpour, she hears a distinct voice telling her to “let me in.” In jumps a little black and white dog, and to Ruby’s astonishment, she can hear the dog’s thoughts. Has she been struck by lightning? Did the storm do this? Is she losing her mind?

It turns out, Ruby can hear many dogs’ thoughts. She decides to set up semi-permanent residency in the town of Harmony Farms, until she can sort out what is going on, and who the little dog, Hitch, belongs to. But some people in Harmony Farms don’t want her there. And it seems that events keep preventing Ruby from leaving. What secrets is this town keeping? Why was she meant to find this dog? And what has Ruby really been running from, all these years?

About the Author

Susan Wilson is the bestselling author of books including One Good Dog, Cameo Lake and Beauty, a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which was made into a CBS-TV movie. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard.

Connect with Susan Wilson

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New Release Spotlight! Plymouth Undercover, Women’s Detective Fiction from Pamela Kelly

Once I learned this book was set in Plymouth, Massachusetts I had to read it because I’m from Brockton, just a few miles away. I love Plymouth and have happy memories of its beaches and seafood dinners at the harbor with my mom and stepfather. It’s always special to read books set in a locale I’m familiar with.

Description

A mother and daughter inherit a PI Agency with a reputation that takes them by surprise.

Meet Emma McCarthy, a thirty-year-old failed actress that just moved home to Plymouth, MA.

And her mother, Cindy, a yoga instructor in the Pinehills, an exclusive golf community in Plymouth.

They’ve just inherited Court Street Investigations, a private detective agency.

And its one part-time employee, eighty-year-old Mickey, a retired police detective.

They expect typical cases like cheating spouses or workman’s comp, but quickly learn that the agency also has a reputation for solving murders when they are hired to find a local missing woman.

About the Author

Pamela M. Kelley is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of women’s fiction, family sagas, and suspense. Readers often describe her books as feel-good reads with people you’d want as friends.

She lives in a historic seaside town near Cape Cod and just south of Boston. She has always been an avid reader of women’s fiction, romance, mysteries, thrillers and cook books. There’s also a good chance you might get hungry when you read her books as she is a foodie, and occasionally shares a recipe or two.

Feel free to sign up for her list to hear about new releases as soon as they are available as well as extras like early bird discounts. Just cut and paste into your browser, http://eepurl.com/IZbOH

Great Escapes! Viola Shipman’s The Clover Girls is a Trip Back to 1980’s Summer Camp

A perfect read to take you back to youthful summer days!

Description

“Like a true friendship, The Clover Girls is a novel you will forever savor and treasure.” —Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author

Elizabeth, Veronica, Rachel and Emily met at Camp Birchwood as girls in 1985, where over four summers they were the Clover Girls—inseparable for those magical few weeks of freedom—until the last summer that pulled them apart. Now approaching middle age, the women are facing challenges they never imagined as teens, struggles with their marriages, their children, their careers, and wondering who it is they see when they look in the mirror.

Then Liz, V and Rachel each receive a letter from Emily with devastating news. She implores the girls who were once her best friends to reunite at Camp Birchwood one last time, to spend a week together revisiting the dreams they’d put aside and repair the relationships they’d allowed to sour. But the women are not the same idealistic, confident girls who once ruled Camp Birchwood, and perhaps some friendships aren’t meant to last forever…

Bestselling author Viola Shipman is at her absolute best with The Clover Girls. Readers of all ages and backgrounds will love its powerful, redemptive nature and the empowering message at its heart.

My Take

What a joy this was on so many levels! I discovered this author on the Friends & Fiction Show. To my surprise, Viola Shipman is the pen name of Wade Rouse. To think a man wrote this gorgeous book that probes deep feminine issues and ponders the emotional decisions women make that impact and change their lives forever, changing themselves in the process. I got lost in it immediately and didn’t come up for air until I finished it.

The four woman at the heart of the story, The Clover Girls – Emily, Veronica, Elizabeth, and Rachel – are decades past their summer camp days and lifelong friendship pact. Left behind were backstabbing plots, deep hurts, broken hearts, and lost dreams. Their adult lives have been disappointing and difficult and all are “lost,” unsure of their purpose, their places in the world. All of this is etched out in the inner thoughts of each character, the thread that drives the tapestry of this richly woven novel. As they break through the pains of their past and rekindle their friendship, long dormant, they emerge with renewed purpose, both personally and as The Clover Girls. Throughout all is the music and pop culture of the ‘80’s: TV, fashion, John Hughes movies, Molly Ringwald, Boy George, Madonna, and so much more.

I never went to summer camp so am unfamiliar with all that goes on there but reading this book gave me a certain nostalgia for easier times and the benefits of long summer days outdoors, by a lake, with friends who are everything, and I’m certain I missed out on a good thing.

Recommended for lovers of women’s fiction, the 80’s, and women who long to go back to their girlhood and fix things.

About the Author

Viola Shipman is the pen name of Wade Rouse, a popular award-winning memoirist and internationally bestselling author of 12 books translated into 20 languages and selected as Today show Must-Reads, Indie Next Picks and Michigan Notable Book. Rouse chose his grandma’s name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose heirlooms inspire his fiction. He lives in Michigan and California, and hosts Wine & Words with Wade, A Literary Happy Hour, every Thursday.

Connect with Viola Shipman

Viola Shipman Website

Wade Rouse Website